Japan protests after China coastguard, fishing vessels sail near disputed islets
Beijing claims the uninhabited, Tokyo-controlled East China Sea islands, called the Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China. In photo: China coast guard ship 35104 sailing near the waters of disputed East China Sea islands, Japan on August 6. Photograph: (AFP)
The latest incident comes amid heightened tensions in Asia, less than a month after an arbitration court in the Hague invalidated China's sweeping claims in the disputed South China Sea, in a case brought by the Philippines.
China has refused to recognise the ruling. Japan called on China to adhere to the verdict, which it said was binding, prompting warnings from Beijing to Tokyo not to interfere.
Three of the six Chinese coastguard ships that were in the so-called contiguous waters today appeared to be armed, Japan's coast guard said. Yesterday, a Japanese foreign ministry official said Chinese coastguard ships and fishing vessels entered what Tokyo considers its territorial waters around the islets.
Beijing claims the uninhabited, Tokyo-controlled East China Sea islands, called the Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, and occasionally sends its coastguard vessels near them. A senior Japanese foreign ministry official today issued a protest to a Chinese embassy official in Tokyo, calling on the coastguard ships to leave the area immediately and condemning the action as a unilateral escalation of tensions, the ministry said.
Japanese vice foreign minister Shinsuke Sugiyama yesterday summoned China's ambassador to Japan, Cheng Yonghua, to lodge a strong protest, the ministry said. Chinese officials could not immediately be reached for comment on Saturday.
China on Friday accused Japan's new defence minister, Tomomi Inada, of recklessly misrepresenting history after she declined to say whether Japanese troops massacred civilians in China during World War II.
Ties between China and Japan, the world's second- and third-largest economies, have been plagued by the territorial row, the legacy of Japans' wartime occupation of parts of China and regional rivalry.